We at the Blogland believe our state’s judicial selection process is too hidden from the public eye, and that a little transparency is long overdue. To help shed a little light on this somewhat-shadowy process for the benefit of our readers, we ask those seeking upcoming judicial seats to answer a few questions - and appreciate those who respond.
Melissa Emery, a Pee Dee native and an attorney from Myrtle Beach, is seeking the Seat Five At-Large Family Court seat. The first in her family to get through college, she’s a proud Francis Marion alum who is nearing her tenth year as a member of its board. A graduate of USC Law School, Ms. Emery has been practicing law for eighteen years, with much of her practice time spent in family law.
Now, we’d like for our readers to meet Ms. Emery:
Q - Tell us about your legal experience:
I have practiced in Family Court since 1995. I handle divorce, custody, adoptions, and name changes. I serve as a GAL for minor children in contested custody cases and adoptions. I have also handled DSS cases as party counsel and a GAL. I am a certified mediator for Family Court and have been so for the past eight years. I was one of just 5 or 6 attorneys in Horry County certified to mediate. For approximately thirteen years I have organized and/or presented at legal seminars in Family Law.
Q - Having been through two divorces, we know there’s a lot of money to be made doing what you’re doing. Why give it up to sit on the bench?
Family Court is an area that you either like or you don't. Those who don't like it but do it anyway for the money are easy to spot. I am adamant that those attorneys who practice in Family Court do their best to do it well.
I am very passionate about Family Law, and I think that passion will translate to the Bench if I am elected. It is an honor to be considered, but a very tough process to be sure. There are many great candidates vying for these new seats, and it is a privilege to be considered among them.
Q - A lot of judicial candidates who end up on Family Court work their way over to other courts, which robs these courts of potentially-knowledgeable judges. Should you win this judicial seat, do you see this as a stepping stone to other roles?
I do not see the Family Court Bench as a stepping stone to another judgeship. I have no intentions of going any further in the judicial hierarchy.
Q - Since you were the first in your family to get through college, odds are you weren’t born with the same silver spoon that a lot of attorneys and judges were. Your first job was … ?
My first job was in the Hot Dog Stand at South of the Border. I cannot believe the signs may soon be a thing of the past!!
Q - Of course, here in the Blogland, we’re all about great rock and roll. What’s your favorite band or album?
I listen to all kinds of music ranging from rock to contemporary gospel. I listen to Billy Joel (old stuff) when I am melancholy, and beach music when I am happy. There is nothing like a sunny day, a sandy beach and Chairman of the Board!! This is one of the reasons I ended up living in Myrtle Beach…that and a job offer.